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Former Flipkart CPO Punit Soni's startup is born

Former Flipkart chief product officer (CPO) Punit Soni's startup, which he has been working on for the past few months after quitting the Indian e-commerce major early this year, is taking formal shape and structure with its incorporation this week. "This is the week we are going to be incorporated and win or lose; this startup we have been dreaming up will start to exist," Soni posted on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Soni, who has worked with Google in the past, returned to Silicon Valley after he quit the e-commerce firm in April to work on his startup project.

"It turns out that naming the darn thing is almost as hard a job as figuring out the space we will operate in (more about that in due time). We will shortly put our first offer letters and with that, really start to exist. Founders may dream up things and lawyers may legally incorporate companies, but companies becomes real when the first team members show up. Now if only we could agree on a darn name," he wrote on LinkedIn.

In an interview with Techcircle.in immediately after his exit from Flipkart, Soni shared his intention to start a venture in the area of mobile and internet . However, Soni has not yet shared the specifics such as the niche segment his venture would operate. Soni has not responded to email queries.

According to an earlier blog post by Soni on LinkedIn and some posts on Twitter by people known to him, he is launching the startup along with Anshu Sharma, a venture partner at Storm Ventures and an early investor in US-based enterprise software company Nutanix, which completed its initial public offering (IPO) early last month. Sharma is also a co-investor with Soni in Razor Pay, a payment gateway firm based in India.

In the US, Soni spent eight years with Google where he started as a product manager in 2007, became lead product manager for mobile apps, Google+, games and mobile and then went on to become vice president of Motorola division within Google.

"How many head of product roles will you do? It may be useful to go build something and hire a head of product for a change," he said in the interview cited above.

"The other thing that I have realised is that may be I have strong opinions on a few things. It is useful to channel that energy into building something that is mine. If that is true, the most logical place for me to build something is (Silicon) Valley. That is where my investors are, where my engineers are, all my friends are," he said.

When asked about his areas of focus during the interview, Soni said his startup will be in the area of mobile and internet. "I am going to talk to a lot of users to understand whether they actually care and find my product suitable. Then I will announce the purpose of my company," he said.

Soni is already an adviser and investor in at least three startups, including Razor Pay as well as two Silicon Valley-based startups—HeadSpin, a testing platform for mobile apps, and Krypton, a mobile alternative service provider.

Most recently, he invested an undisclosed amount of capital in Innov8, a sector agnostic co-working space. Soni said he will prefer people to ideas when it comes to putting his money. "I advise companies only if I feel I can put my money in them. If I am not comfortable putting my money into a firm, I don't think it is worth putting my time in it," he said.

While Soni's focus areas will be consumer internet and mobile, he will also be exploring areas he is familiar with such as electronic design, enterprise software, mobile apps, social, hardware and ecommerce. E-learning and artificial intelligence are other areas, he said, he will look at.

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